Somerset House

F. Ball takes floors up a step at Somerset House

F. Ball and Co. Ltd.’s rapid-setting, ultra-smooth floor finishing compound has delivered a fast-track solution for refurbishing the iconic Nelson Staircase at Somerset House, London.

As part of ongoing maintenance and improvement works, flooring contractor Carpet Culture was commissioned to restore the steps and one of the main landings of the historic Beaux-Arts staircase, which spans six floors and dates back to the late 18th century, when the Royal Navy occupied the building.

Contractors began by removing old floorcoverings and adhesive residues from the steps and the 40m2 landing.

The landing was destroyed by a bomb in the Second World War and subsequently restored with concrete, meaning that it would require raising in order for floorcoverings to meet the level of the original stone border, but less than the minimum application thickness of a smoothing compound. Additionally, work required completing over two nights, between the hours of 6-11pm, while the building was unoccupied, meaning there was not time to mechanically prepare the concrete area.

Contractors, therefore, applied two coats of Stopgap Micro Rapid floor finishing compound to create a perfectly smooth surface for the receipt of floorcoverings.

Stone effect LVTs were then installed on the landing and risers and treads of the stairs, and Stycco Flex rapid-curing, flexible tube adhesive was used to affix Gradus stair nosings. The high strength build-up and fast curing time of the adhesive means it can secure stair nosings and trims in as little as 60 minutes, without the need for mechanical fixings.

Tom McCullough, senior flooring manager at Carpet Culture, said: “We were grateful to our F. Ball technical representative for suggesting using Stopgap Micro Rapid as an alternative to applying a smoothing compound so that we could complete the work out of hours, on time. It worked a treat, and we received compliments for how it looked even before the floorcoverings went down.”